All In For IngatheringIngathering 2020 Divides Up the Work for Each District

All In For Ingathering
Ingathering 2020 Divides Up the Work for Each District

ingathering 2020

By Caleb Hennington

Digital Content Editor

Although plans were made for the annual Ingathering event to be held at the Arkansas Foodbank, as it has for the past few years, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic required new ideas to be put in action to ensure that Arkansas children and families don’t go hungry this holiday season.

This year’s Ingathering will not be a centralized in-person gathering in the Central District, as it has for many years, but instead, all five districts of the Arkansas Annual Conference will host events in their own districts to gather canned and dry goods, raise money for disaster relief and food pantries, and raise awareness for hunger in Arkansas.

“The decision to move Ingathering to the district level was based on two realities,” said Mary Lewis Dassinger, Project Coordinator for 200,000 More Reasons. “First, safety guidelines during the pandemic would not allow for us to plan, with confidence, a large event where 275 Methodists could work side by side to pack food. Moreover, we recognized almost every community is seeing a need for greater access to food. Our goal with Ingathering is to meet this growing need and stay safe, serving together while apart.”

Here’s what each district is planning to do to help hungry families in Arkansas this year.

Central District:

The Central District will hold a one-day drop-off event from 10 a.m – 2 p.m on Saturday, Nov. 21 at the Arkansas Foodbank, 4301 W 65th St, Little Rock, AR.

The district is asking for people to bring monetary donations or non-perishable food donations, including: canned meat, canned fruit, canned vegetables, canned or instant gravy, canned sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, macaroni and cheese, mashed potato mix, and cornbread/stuffing mix. Drop off will only be available from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Nov. 21.

In addition, churches in the district are encouraged to raise money for a donation designated to the Arkansas Foodbank. The donation can be paid online by the church filling out the Ingathering Form.

Gently used or new children’s books, and UMCOR Relief Kit supplies (hygiene kits and cleaning kits/flood buckets) will also be collected.

Lastly, the district will be collecting donations for the Arkansas Disaster Response/Volunteers in Mission teams to construct a new storage facility for supply kits, tools and trailers. The goal is to raise $15,000 from Ingathering.

Central District Ingathering Form

Northeast District:

The Northeast District is encouraging a more individualized approach to Ingathering. Non-perishable food items and monetary donations will be collected by churches and can be given to a favorite local feeding ministry in the district.

They are also encouraging churches to compete against other churches, youth and children’s ministries to see which group can collect the most food items or raise the most money throughout the month of October.

UMCOR Relief donations and monetary gifts to support the Disaster Response and VIM storage facility are also encouraged.

Northeast District Ingathering Form

Northwest District:

On Saturday, Nov. 14, the Northwest District will host a Day of Giving at five strategically selected ministries across the district. People are encouraged to drop off their food or monetary donations from 9 a.m. to 12 noon on Nov. 14 at one of these locations: Alma UMC, Dardanelle UMC, Huntsville UMC, Mission UMC, and Waldron UMC’s Food Distribution Site.

Donations should be placed in a brown bag, and weigh approximately 9.5 lbs with donations included. They are asking for the following specific donations: one 40oz. jar of peanut butter, two boxes of mac and cheese, 32 oz bag of rice, 32 oz. bag of beans, two boxes of 32oz. shelf-stable milk (NOT powdered milk), two cans of chicken.

Cash donations only will also be accepted at any location. Donations will help UMCOR relief, Arkansas Disaster Response/VIM, and UMCOR Sager Brown.

Northwest District Ingathering Form

Southeast District:

The Southeast District will be collecting non-perishable food donations and monetary donations to support local backpack programs and blessing boxes.

Food items that are needed for the backpack program are canned fruit, canned meat (such as tuna, Vienna sausages, and Beanie Weenies), shelf-stable milk, and cereal bars.

Blessing boxes are accepting donations of any canned goods (vegetables, fruit, meat, meals, etc.)

Donations for UMCOR Relief and Arkansas Disaster Response/VIM will also be accepted.

You can also tune in to District Superintendent Rev. Mark Norman’s Facebook Live stream on Nov. 7 for a celebration of Ingathering in the Southeast District.

Southeast District Ingathering Form

Southwest District:

Non-perishable food items as well as monetary donations will also be gathered by the Southwest District, but they are also asking churches to participate in a Fill the Van to Fill the Tummies event at your local Walmart or grocery store.

To participate in the event, ask your local Walmart or grocery store if you can park your church van in their parking lot on Saturday, Nov. 21, and then gather food donations from local shoppers that can be used by your UMC food pantry.

Donations for UMCOR Relief and Arkansas Disaster Response/VIM will also be accepted.

Southwest District Ingathering Form

No matter which district event you take part in, each volunteer or church should fill out their district’s Ingathering Form so that the conference can keep track of how many donations we gather this year.

Every district is doing something different, but no matter their plans, they are all coming together to battle the ongoing fight against hunger in our Conference.

“As much as I love the traditional Ingathering event where we can serve shoulder-to-shoulder with Methodists from across the state, I believe this year’s Ingathering will be a powerful testimony to the connection of the Arkansas United Methodist Church and give us all a greater sense of unity as a people of faith and action when it is needed most,” Dassinger said.

For more on Ingathering 2020, visit our website at

Arkansas Conference Receives Faith Based Group of the Year AwardAnnual Award Given by Arkansas Foodbank

Arkansas Conference Receives Faith Based Group of the Year Award
Annual Award Given by Arkansas Foodbank

mary lewis brenda

Brenda Norwood, left, and Mary Lewis Dassinger, right, accept the award for Faith Based Group of the Year from the Arkansas Foodbank.

By Caleb Hennington

Digital Content Editor

The Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church is humbled and grateful to receive the Faith-Based Group of the Year Award from the Arkansas Foodbank for the 2019 year.

The Arkansas Conference was selected as this year’s recipient thanks to its annual Ingathering hunger relief event, which has been hosted at the Arkansas Foodbank for the past three years.

The 2019 Ingathering event hosted 275 volunteers who helped pack 40,000 pounds of sweet potatoes — which were donated by a local farmer who attends an Arkansas United Methodist Church — and 22,000 pounds of dry beans.

The Arkansas Conference was also recognized at the event for its COVID-19 response in 2020. Thanks to a grant provided by the Methodist Foundation of Arkansas, the Arkansas Conference Delta Project has been able to close the gap for those facing food insecurity during the pandemic through mobile food distributions.

The Delta Project mobile distributions have been able to feed approximately 2,658 families with 17,600 pounds of produce and 111,080 pounds of food since April 2020.

foodbank award

200,000 More Reasons Project Coordinator Mary Lewis Dassinger along with Brenda Norwood, chairperson of the Conference Board of Global Ministries, were present at the ceremony to accept the award on behalf of the Arkansas Conference.

“I was proud to receive this award along with Brenda Norwood on behalf of the Arkansas United Methodist Church. Our commitment to feed the insecure speaks to the power of the Methodist connection and gives glory to God. Being united together with our community is a powerful witness to the ‘Acts’ church we are called to be,” Dassinger said.

Bishop Gary Mueller added, “As Christians, we are called to serve the needy when they are hungry. The Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church is grateful for this recognition and to work alongside the Arkansas Food Bank in ministry.”

This year’s Ingathering will be different than in year’s past due to the ongoing pandemic. Instead of a centralized gathering at the Arkansas Foodbank, each district will participate in their own local Ingathering event. To find more information on what your district will be doing for Ingathering 2020, visit

Ingathering Brings Methodists of All Ages to Little Rock

Ingathering Brings Methodists of All Ages to Little Rock

This year’s Ingathering event, which took place the Saturday before Thanksgiving, brought more than 300 United Methodists from across the Conference to the Arkansas Food Bank in Little Rock. More than 40 churches were represented at the event, where volunteers helped to pack 40,000 pounds of sweet potatoes and 3,500 pounds of dried beans, which will be stored and distributed to area food pantries around Arkansas.

In addition, two pallets of disaster relief buckets and nine pallets of school and hygiene kits were collected.

Check out the pictures from the day, and make plans for you and your church to attend Ingathering in 2020!

Ingathering preps for 2018 event
37,000 pounds of beans, 40,000 pounds of sweet potatoes to be sorted

By Caleb Hennington

Digital Content Editor

More than 300 United Methodist volunteers from around the state are expected to gather at the Arkansas Foodbank for this year’s annual Ingathering event.

Ingathering — the largest volunteer event for United Methodists in Arkansas and the Arkansas Foodbank — takes place from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17.

Volunteers will have the opportunity to sort, package and label produce, including 37,000 pounds of dried beans and 40,000 pounds of sweet potatoes. According to Mary Lewis Dassinger, project coordinator for 200,000 Reasons and Ingathering, that is double the number of beans from last year’s Ingathering.

Volunteers at the event are divided up into various groups, where they are then given the task of either sorting produce, packaging produce into bags or bins, or labeling the packaged produce according to their contents.

Once volunteers sort the items, churches who signed up to take produce back to their food pantries will receive a certain number of items. The Foodbank stores the remaining unclaimed items until they are ready for distribution.

Two shift times are available – 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. – with 30 minutes of worship time between the shifts.

In addition, churches from around the state are expected to bring supplies that the United Methodist Committee on Relief will use for their disaster response kits.

This year, Ingathering is only accepting supplies for hygiene, post-disaster cleaning, and school supply kits. UMCOR distributes these kits to areas of need in the event of a disaster, such as the recent hurricanes that have hit both the Carolina coast and the Florida Gulf Coast. Their website lists the supplies needed for each of these kits.

Volunteers from 2017’s Ingathering event gather for a group photo.

Dassinger expects this year’s Ingathering to be a great success, thanks to the growing number of volunteers who have signed up to participate.

“What I love about Ingathering is the intergenerational day of service that we can have statewide. We have very few events that bring us all together,” Dassinger said. “I always hope that through Ingathering those people, especially laity, who haven’t had a chance to connect with others in the Conference will have a chance to do so through Ingathering.”

This year’s Ingathering also brings many new opportunities for United Methodists to give of their time and resources.

In addition to packing produce, Ingathering is also collecting items for a Thanksgiving holiday food drive.

They are asking for churches and individuals to bring food items to the Arkansas Foodbank on the day of Ingathering. These items will help to provide holiday meals for families in Arkansas, and volunteers will be sorting and storing these items for later distribution by the Foodbank as well.

Some of the items that are needed include canned meat, canned vegetables, cornbread/stuffing mix, and canned fruit. A full list of accepted items can be found here.

Two volunteers sort beans at the Arkansas Foodbank.

Another new option for Ingathering in 2018 is the opportunity to be a sponsor for the event.

Sponsorship options range from $50 to $1,000, and varying levels of incentives are available for each sponsorship package. Businesses that are interested in becoming a sponsor can fill out the sponsorship information form and mail it – along with a check – to the Arkansas Conference office.

For those that choose to volunteer at this year’s Ingathering, it’s not just an opportunity to spend a weekend gathering together with fellow Arkansas United Methodists; for Dassinger, it means much more than that.

“I really hope volunteers gain a sense of accomplishment for helping to provide food for those who need it around the state. And I hope they get to experience a sense of glorifying God in their work that day,” Dassinger said.

To sign up as a volunteer for Ingathering, visit the Ingathering event page and fill out the registration at the bottom of the page.

Necessary forms for waivers and remittance can also be downloaded and printed by clicking on the links at the bottom of the Ingathering page.